Can Genomics Remove Uncertainty from Adoption? Social Workers' and Medical Advisors' Accounts of Genetic Testing

Michael Arribas-Ayllon, Katherine Shelton, Angus Clarke
2021 British Journal of Social Work  
Genetic testing is controversial in adoption with professionals taking different positions on whether children should be protected from genetic information or whether it can be used to assist adoption. In this article, we argue that advances in 'genome-wide' testing add further complications to these debates. Although next-generation sequencing (NGS) and microarray-based technologies can offer high-quality molecular diagnoses for a variety of conditions, they also increase the burden of
more » ... e burden of interpretation. For these reasons, adoption professionals will need to understand the relevance and complexity of biomedical information. Our study explores the accounts of social workers' and medical advisors' knowledge and reasoning about genetic testing in adoption. Twenty participants, including social workers, managers, medical advisors and paediatricians, were recruited from adoption services in England and Wales. A key finding revealed that medical professionals reported increasing pressure to test children prior to adoption, whilst social workers justified testing on the basis that it reduced uncertainty and therefore assisted adoption. Professionals' accounts of genetic testing suggest that social workers may not be aware of the potential indeterminacy of microarray and NGS technologies. This has important implications for adoption because increases in genomic uncertainty can stigmatise children and disadvantage their prospects for adoption.
doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcab017 fatcat:egyp64aipnbhnk5knpa56aqxbm